Our Story


St Therese School and Colonel Light Gardens Parish date back to 1924.

An area of land was bought to provide a church and school for the many large Catholic families occupying homes in a major housing development in the garden suburb. The number of children per family varied from five to eleven!

The school-church, constructed from wood and iron, was opened and blessed on 13th September, 1925 by Archbishop Spence and Fr Crowley (Kingswood Parish) in the presence of nearly five thousand people. A shrine was dedicated to St Therese of Lisieux, the Little Flower, canonised only a few months before. The total cost of the project was £1,800 and an appeal was launched to raise donations through the Southern Cross Newspaper.

The school was staffed by Dominican nuns from Cabra College with Sr Mary Horgan as the first principal.

As enrolments increased to two hundred, another building, this time in brick, was added. The opening event was again a pilgrimage event to the shrine for many Adelaide people, marked by shedding of rose petals over the assembly from an aeroplane flying overhead.

In 1928 Colonel Light Gardens became an independent parish, with the appointment of Fr Peter Horgan, and a new presbytery was established. As the community grew, renovations were made to the facilities, and a further building was erected in 1932.
An annual highlight was the celebration of St Therese’s feast day, when thousands of people came by special bus and tram services. An aerial rose petal shower became a regular feature. During World War II, a camp for soldiers was established in the district, and when the first separate church building was finally constructed in 1963, it became the St Therese’s War Memorial Church.

The Apostolic Delegate opened the school Mortlock Unit in 1937, which replaced the first wooden structure and at this time the original roofed shrine of St Therese was removed, leaving the life sized marble statue enclosed in the new entrance.

In 1977 the Dominican nuns left the school and the first lay principal, Greg McHugh, was appointed.

Major building alterations to St Therese School were completed in 1984, with changes to existing classrooms, a new administration area and staffroom, and the remodelling of the multi-purpose room, part of which was formally the church. This building was named the Horgan Unit, in memory of the first parish priest.

In the following year the school celebrated its 60th Jubilee, and since then various upgrading programs have focussed on interior refurbishing, with a new recreational playground on the campus in 1988, which complemented improvements to the adjacent Oxford Circus Reserve.

Between 1996 and 1998 the Mortlock Unit underwent a significant building improvement project. This unit now comprises four classrooms clustered around a large library/resource and computer teaching area.

In 2003/4 the school undertook a major refurbishment and building project, which saw refurbishments to all learning areas, enlargement of the Multipurpose room, upgrades to the office, administration and staff areas, the addition of a new meeting room and staff preparation area, new shelters, stools, fences and landscaping.

2011 brought much celebration with the building of our Dominican Centre; housing music, drama and art rooms which can all be opened up to accommodate whole school activiies, plus an extra classroom, new toilet block and fantastic new playground, all made possible through the Federal Government’s BER funding program.

With a capacity enrolment, St Therese School looks forward to a long future of Catholic Primary education.

(with thanks to Dr Chris Garnaut, who researched the parish history)